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Our Travelling Tips

David and I have travelled a decent amount in our five years of marriage thanks to his touring lifestyle, but not a lot of trips are purely for a vacation together. I love to travel. It’s certainly a trait that I inherited from my parents. They are currently traveling the world after going through the reverse mortgage process with SoFi. This summer we decided we were craving a little visit to California so we figured we would wait until the weather got bad at home and then make our escape to the warmer weather. We have teamed up with American Express to share some travelling tips that we’ve learned along the way and the first is how we save for our trips.

1. Saving for our trips
Over the summer we’d been saving up our American Express Membership Rewards points and come fall, booked our flights. The new Fixed Points Travel Program from Amex is so easy and reliable to book flights with – there’s no extra hidden fees or limitations like blackout dates or odd flight times. But their awesome points system isn’t limited to flights. You can use your Membership Rewards points for any part of your travel; flights, hotels, and car rentals. A great start for saving points for our trip was earning 25,000 Membership Rewards points as a welcome bonus when we spent $1,500 in the first 3 months of Card membership with the Gold Rewards Card. After that, you earn 2 points for every dollar spent on eligible travel and everyday purchases (gas stations, grocery stores and drug stores) and 1 point for every dollar spent for everything else.

2. Planning our days
To make it possible for us we made this a short 4 day trip, so to make the most of it we planned out what we wanted to do beforehand. We’ve done trips when we don’t know what restaurants to eat at or areas to check out and it feels like there’s a lot of walking aimlessly, getting really hungry and settling for the closest option. But we have quickly learned the art of making sure we know what we are going to do before we leave. Especially being a family now and having a toddler around, we need to know where we’re going ahead of time to ensure everything goes smoothly. It’s also important for us to ensure that we are getting the best bang for our buck! That’s why we charge everything to our American Express Gold Rewards Card so we can earn points on every dollar we spend and use them towards our next family trip.

3. How to plan
Get on Pinterest, ask around on social media, and check travels blogs for suggestions (My favourite – Local Wanderer ). Each place that I’m interested in visiting I check how far it is from where we’re staying and, if it’s doable, I look up the location’s Instagram tags to get a realistic feel of what it looks like, what kind of people are there etc. This usually gives me a good sense of if it’s somewhere I think we’ll like. I then group together the destinations by location so we can spend a day or afternoon exploring one area and hit all our must-see spots! It can also be helpful to find out when the best time to visit the destination you are looking to visit is. For example, we’ve been looking to visit Slovenia soon. So of course, we researched before choosing when to go to Slovenia. It is important to choose the right time to go somewhere as visiting some parts of the year could be completely different to another time. Wherever you decide to go though, it is really important that you know exactly where you’ll be staying and how much your accommodation is going to cost (if you’re going for an extended stay). If you have no idea where to look, you may want to have a look at the Expat Guide To Great Destinations for further help and information.

Exploring is high on the priority list for us, but when you have one toddler in tow and another in your belly, certain aspects of your exploration needs to be carefully planned. For example, if you know you want to visit Texas, you should be looking into things like Austin RV Rentals, so that you can plan for the trip. Road trips, in particular, need lots of planning so try and get this done as far in advance as possible!

This post is sponsored by American Express, but all views and opinions are our own.

Artifact Uprising Christmas Cards

I cannot believe that the Christmas season is here, does time even exist anymore? We headed out last week with our good friend & photographer Elissa Crowe to take some family photos to order our Christmas cards from Artifact Uprising. If you haven’t visited Artifact Uprising before, get ready to fall in love. They create products of all kinds with your photos, I’ve ordered many things from them in the past for our own keepsakes and for Christmas gifts.  

We had our images printed on the Merry Christmas Card with Foil. You can choose between gold, copper, and silver, we went with copper. The cards turned out beautiful and have a blank back with space to write a personal message. One of my favourite pre Christmas activities and writing and sending cards! 

Um, how old does that almost 3 year old look! 

Family Photography: Elissa Crowe Photography located in the Vancouver area.

The maxi dress is no longer sold, but the same brand created a mini version (linked above). 

Blix Bike

This Summer I started riding a Blix Electric Bike and I’m so in love with it. We live in an area with lots of hills so I would rarely bike because I always ended up walking my bike up the hills (I may not be the most athletic haha). Basically the electric pedal assist has changed my life. We can get down to the beach, to the coffee shop or the bakery in a couple minutes. It’s so nice to be able to run out to grab more milk quickly in the morning without having to get in the car. It’s also just a lot of fun, We always make friends try it out on our street when they come over. 

There is a pedal assist (low, med or high) so you just pedal as normal and it gives you as much extra push as you need and you really start to rip, If I’m in the bike lane I’m passing the guys in their spandex on road bikes. You can also use the throttle if you don’t feel like pedalling at all, which honestly I use all the time being pregnant.  

Bonus is that these bikes are so good looking, I love the brown leather with the black frame. I’m riding the Komfort+. I highly recommend an electric bike if you live more rural like us or in the city, it’s such a quick way to get around, and especially practical if you’re towing kids in a trailer. 

Toque – Boheme Goods, Sweater – Thrifted, Jeans – Loft Maternity

Family room makeover with All Modern

This spring we took on the project of tackling our family room & kitchen. We live in a old cabin like house, small windows, lots of walls and low ceilings, so it’s easy for it too feel closed off and dark. Having said that, I love the rustic feel to our house! Although cabins are associated with getaway homes, I know plenty of people who would want to live in a log cabin full-time. It all depends on your style and preference, but as much as I love my cabin-like home, I feel the darkness is starting to give it a gloomy feel. We had been wanting to open up and brighten it up with some interior updates this winter, and the changes we made really did that.

The biggest thing we did was cutout that wall looking into the kitchen (before photos are at the bottom of the post – the first photo shows that wall before). Opening that up makes it feel much bigger and it’s so nice having our two main rooms connected.

We furnished our new family room with wonderful AllModern. An awesome decor shop online, they also have an app that I was addicted to while planning the room. They have a huge variety of different styles & price ranges, they basically had everything I could have been looking for. I’ve shared a list of links to our items below.

These beautiful rugs are from, I’ve ordered many rugs from them over the years, love them! These Chembra Flatweave Trellis rugs have been my favourite yet. We live in the rainy woods, have a huge shedding dog and a toddler, so my main criteria was durable. These ones have been so practical, very forgiving to little marks on them, even the darker patch where the dog likes to lay down when were not in the room blends in. Plus, the pattern is beautiful! If you’re going to be buying a new rug then check out this blog entry on how to choose the right rug for you.

Another big change in updating and brightening this room was painting this wall white. I wanted to do it for years, but convincing David was a bit of work 😉 and I admit that it was a big job but SO worth it (here I am getting to business). We borrowed a spray gun from friends which made the job easy, taping and tarping the room off was the big task. Spraying the paint goes everyyyywhereee so we had to tape off every single crack and crevice that we didn’t want to be coated white. For the cleanup job afterwards, we could have used something like this –

I get asked all the time where these lovely belly baskets are from. They are from an online shop local to Vancouver here, Drifter.

I wanted to create a toy corner for Poppy that didn’t take over our family room with kid stuff all the time. I decided to go with the classic Ikea Kallax unit & boxes, it’s been super practical, she stuffs all her toys into the boxes and shelves at the end of the day.

Adding that full length mirror in the corner makes the room feel a lot bigger. It took me a long time to figure out what to do with that dark corner behind the couch and when we tried the mirror it immediately felt like the room opened up. (Before photos are at the bottom of the post – this corner is in the third photo where Poppy’s high chair is).

This is the view from the kitchen, we took the door off the hinges after we made the cutout in the wall to keep it feeling open up.

She is only getting away with opening this drawer because I’m taking pictures…

Source List

Armchairs – AllModern
Coffee Tables – AllModern (these specific one’s are no longer online, but there are lots similar)
Side Tables – AllModern (again, these specific one’s are no longer online, but there are lots similar)
Couch – Urban Barn
Throw Cushions – AllModern
Lamps – AllModern
Console Tables – AllModern
Floor Mirrors – AllModern
Rugs – Rugsusa
Sheepskin Potterybarn
Storage Unit – IKEA
Pendant Lights (in kitchen) – Structube
Baskets – Drifter

Our family room before

We don’t have any official before photos, mostly because our family room wasn’t overly photogenic but here are some photos from Poppy’s birthday parties to give you a feel for it.

Above is the wall that we cutout to the kitchen.

Here is the rock wall in its natural colour. Obviously we didn’t have a pig in that pen on a regular basis 😉 The pen was usually filled with blankets and pillows for hanging out and cuddling by the fireplace.

See more of our home projects on our hashtag #menziehomefrenzy – I’ll be sharing the kitchen next week.

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